Tuesday, October 3, 2023

MLB Playoff Rankings 2023

After a crazy last week where the standings for the AL West and AL Wild Card seemed to change daily, the dust has finally settled and we have our field for the new expanded playoffs. Tonight will start the gauntlet for a dozen teams, until our champion is crowned. My team, the Red Sox, will not be one of those twelve, as they have decided yet again to wallow in last place. So who do I root for? There's a lot of factors involved. I tend to favor teams that haven't won it all in a long while, and fortunately only 3 of the 12 teams have won in the past decade. (Unfortunately those 3 teams, the Astros, Braves and Dodgers, are juggernauts and have a strong chance to win again this year.) 

So here's my personal 2023 playoff rankings, based on who I want to see win, as well as my gut feelings as to how well they'll do:

1. Baltimore Orioles - AL East Champions (39 year drought)

1984 Fleer #644 Rick Dempsey (WS)
There are a few teams here that not only have had longer droughts than Baltimore, but haven't ever won a Championship either. Still, I'm rooting 100% for my team's AL East rival. Why? You obviously know I'm a Red Sox fan, but did you know I..ahem...married a Yankees fan? It's true, and as a compromise we agreed our children would be raised as Orioles fans! Sadly, my daughters haven't grown to enjoy baseball as much as dear old dad, so maybe a World Title will help jump start their fandom anew!

Prediction: (Spoiler Alert!) Lose to Braves in the World Series

2. Milwaukee Brewers - NL Central Champions (54 year drought - Never won a World Series)

2023 Topps #533 Milwaukee Brewers (TC)
Out of the three teams here that have never won a World Series, they've gone the longest since even appearing in the Fall Classic. They have one of the best pitching staffs of all the playoff teams, and I think they'll have a surprisingly strong run this year.

Prediction: Lose to the Braves in the NLCS

3. Texas Rangers - AL Wild Card (62 year drought - Never won a World Series)

2023 Topps #292 Texas Rangers (TC)
If either deGrom or Scherezer were healthy, I'd like their chances a lot more. They match up against the Rays in the Wild Card, who have had their own pitching injuries of note. I think Texas will slug their way past the first round, but that's it.

Prediction: Lose to the Orioles in the ALDS

4. Toronto Blue Jays - AL Wild Card (29 year drought)

1993 Score #521 Dave Winfield (WS)

Don't sleep on the Blue Jays. They got in this year despite underwhelming seasons from their young hitters. If Guerrero, Bichette or even Springer find that extra gear for the postseason, this team can run the table like last year's Phillies team.

Prediction: Lose to the Orioles in the ALCS

5. Miami Marlins - NL Wild Card (19 year drought)

2004 Topps
#732 Fish Win World Series (PSH, WS)
The Marlins get a slight bump up in my rankings because my wife's aunt and uncle are big fans, and recently gifted me a Livan Hernandez bobble-head commemorating his 1997 World Series MVP performance. Also, I hope the Red Sox poach Kim Ng from them to head their baseball operations next year.
Prediction:  Lose to Phillies in NL Wild Card Round 

6. Philadelphia Phillies - NL Wild Card (14 year drought)

2009 Topps Heritage #391 The Champs Celebrate (WS)
I grossly underestimated this team last year, so I won't be surprised if they get past Atlanta again this year. Harper, Turner and Schwarber were built for the October limelight. They're a better team than last year's NL Champions. Unfortunately, so are the Braves, and although I won't be surprised by a repeat of last year, I can't bring myself to predict it.

Prediction: Lose to the Braves in the NLDS

7. Minnesota Twins - AL Central Champions (31 year drought)

1992 Stadium Club Dome #125 Jack Morris (WS)
The Twins have lost 18 straight playoff games, going all the way back to 2004. I think they'll break that streak this year, but won't advance beyond their first series.

Prediction: Lose to the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card Round

8. Arizona Diamondbacks - NL Wild Card (21 year drought)

2004 Topps - World Series Highlights #WS-LG Luis Gonzalez

I joined a keeper fantasy baseball league this past year, and one of my first trades involved trading away Corbin Carroll. That trade will haunt me for years, but I realize now how young and hungry this Arizona team is.
Prediction: Lose to Brewers in the NL Wild Card Round

9. Los Angeles Dodgers NL West Champions (2 year drought)

2021 Topps Heritage #1 Los Angeles Dodgers (WS)
I genuinely like Dave Roberts as a manager, and feel that a second World Series win is the only thing he needs to cement his place in Cooperstown. Their starting pitching has taken a beating this year, and I have concerns that will be the main issue that keeps them from going the distance. If they do, it'll be that dynamic duo of Freeman and Betts that carry them.

Prediction: (Surprise upset!) Lose to the Brewers in the NLDS

10. Atlanta Braves - NL East Champions (1 year drought)

2022 Topps Heritage
#210 Freddie Freeman (WS)
Despite being so low on this list, I don't have any hate towards Atlanta. In all honesty, I have a hard time thinking anyone will beat them. They're an exciting team, and I won't be upset if they pull it off, I just would like to see some other teams get their trophy first.

Prediction: Win the World Series

11. Tampa Bay Rays - AL Wild Card (25 year drought - Never won a World Series)

2023 Topps #623 Tampa Bay rays (TC)
I'll admit it - I just don't like the Rays. You would think that never winning the World Series in 25 years would push them to the upper tier, but no. They're pesky and annoying. If their starting rotation was completely healthy, watch out, but as it stands now, I think they're headed for an early exit.
Prediction: Lose to the Rangers in the AL Wild Card Round

12. Houston Astros - AL West Champions (Current defending Champions)

2023 Topps Heritage #475 '22 World Series Game 4 (WS, SP)

Hey, look at that! For the first time since I've done these rankings, last place doesn't go to the Yankees! (Seriously though - who could have predicted that, especially with additional playoff spots added?) They've made it to the AL Championship Series 6 years running, and the World Series in 4 of those years. I'm ready for this dynasty to conclude, aren't you?

Prediction: (Another surprise upset!) Lose to the Blue Jays in the ALDS

To summarize my predictions: 

AL Wild Cards
Rangers over Rays
Blue Jays over Twins
NL Wild Cards
Phillies over Marlins
Brewers over Diamondbacks

Orioles over Rangers
Blue Jays over Astros
Braves over Phillies
Brewers over Dodgers
Orioles over Blue Jays

Braves over Brewers

World Series
Braves over Orioles

So who do you got?


  1. If I wasn't rooting for Atlanta, I'd be rooting for teams who have never won a title. Milwaukee, Texas, and Tampa Bay. After that the Blue Jays, Twins, Orioles, and Diamondbacks. Like you the three juggernauts seem to have the upper hand again this year. We'll see how it plays out.

  2. You have the Blue Jays 4 and I have them 12. But the other 3 teams in my bottom 4 are in your bottom 4: Astros 11 for me, Dodgers 10, and Braves 9.

    My top 3 are Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Rangers.

    Anyway, I think your preview is better than mine. I should have focused less on cards and more on opining.

  3. I like my Braves in your predictions. That works for me. :)

  4. With both of my teams missing the postseason... I'll be rooting for the Braves. They're an exciting group of ballplayers and I liked watching their games on TBS when I was younger. In the AL... I wouldn't cry to see the Rangers finally win a WS. I'd also be happy for Orioles or Twins fans.

    The two teams I'll actively root against are the Astros and Dodgers. Everyone else is meh.